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House of Commons Hansard #54 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendment.

Topics

Hollinger Inc.Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Acting Prime Minister.

In 1980, the largest press baron owned 20 per cent of all Canadian newspapers. The then Liberal government, concerned about the situation, set up a royal inquiry commission, the Kent commission.

Today, Conrad Black's Hollinger owns 42 per cent of all Canadian newspapers. What steps does the government intend to take to maintain a balance between the economic interests of newspaper owners and the public's right to information?

Hollinger Inc.Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalSecretary of State (Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

In fact, the director of the bureau of competition is aware of the buyout the hon. member has just mentioned. He has already made some representations and done a number of analyses, and I want to say that, in the past, every time there has been a deal involving newspapers, the government has taken action by introducing relevant legislation if necessary.

In this case, the director informed us that the deal was legitimate. I would point out to my colleague that Canada's Competition Act ensures that fair competition can be maintained across the country, and that all Canadians can take advantage of it through a mechanism provided for in the act.

Hollinger Inc.Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to Quebec's main publishers, the future of the Canadian Press agency in Quebec is at stake, at a crucial time in our history. Will the government intercede with Southam and Hollinger to maintain a minimum of jobs in this organization? A minimum of jobs?

Hollinger Inc.Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalSecretary of State (Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, the director of competition was informed of this transaction. We conducted a number of analyses and came to the conclusion that this deal did not significantly reduce competition in Canada as provided for in the legislation. Once again, I remind my colleague that the law is there to be used in accordance with the mechanism provided.

Young Offenders ActOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I was pleased to meet with a number of people in Hamilton East. I was saddened, however, to hear the bad news that violent crime in the area has increased 187 per cent over the last eight years. In addition, criminal charges against young offenders jumped 37 per cent from 1994 to 1995.

When will the minister admit the Young Offenders Act, including Bill C-37, is not working, it is a joke, as many young people profess.

Young Offenders ActOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, at the time Bill C-37 was introduced by this government, we described it as only the first step in dealing with the youth justice system in Canada. That bill has now been passed and became effective on December 1, 1995.

The second step is work by the justice committee of the House of Commons. I asked that committee to travel the country looking at the evidence, speaking to parents, police, school principals and young people themselves and to come back to Ottawa with recommendations for change.

The Young Offenders Act has now been on the books for 12 years. It is time to look at the fundamentals of the statute. The justice committee is now engaged in that work. Indeed, members of my hon. friend's party are well represented by hard working members on that committee.

Next week the committee is going to be in metropolitan Toronto listening to evidence, looking at youth detention facilities and getting the facts so it can come back to this House with recommendations. I have already said that those are recommendations we will pay close attention to.

By working together, we can improve the act.

Young Offenders ActOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, in January 1994 the minister asked for submissions from all across the country. I saw those submissions. I know what the people of Canada were asking for and so does he. He has done nothing since then.

The most unhappy people are the young people themselves as the majority of victims come from that age. Too bad you people do not take this more seriously. When will the minister hear their voice, scrap the Young Offenders Act and make violent criminals fully accountable for their actions?

Young Offenders ActOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we take this matter very seriously. It is neither fair nor right for the hon. member to say that nothing has been done.

Bill C-37, which became effective on December 1, introduced important changes to the Young Offenders Act. We doubled the maximum penalty for first degree murder. We said that 16 and 17-year olds accused of crimes of serious violence will be tried in adult court unless they can satisfy the courts otherwise. The onus rests on them. We have provided for information being freely shared among police, school officials and others. Those changes are important and are already having an effect. As to further changes in the act, we will wait for the recommendations of the committee on which the hon. member sits.

The other thing we have to bear in mind, which the hon. member forgets, is that as difficult a problem as youth crime is, it is not going to be resolved by changing the words in the statute. That alone is not going to be enough. Until the hon. member works with us in our efforts on crime prevention and getting to the causes of crime, we will never be able to make the streets of this country safe.

Milling IndustryOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Industry.

The Archer-Daniels-Midland company has announced plans to buy out Maple Leaf Mills. As a result of this transaction, 75 per cent of the Canadian flour market would be concentrated in the hands of two American subsidiaries.

What does the Minister of Industry intend to do regarding this potential concentration of 75 per cent of the milling industry in the hands of just two companies?

Milling IndustryOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalSecretary of State (Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, in Canada, a mechanism is provided under the Competition Act.

We have experts at the competition bureau who have a great deal of experience in the field of competition and who know the economic market place well. Needless to say, we are keeping a close watch on all deals made from coast to coast. If the competition bureau notices a decline in competition on the Canadian market, it will take action.

Otherwise, there is a mechanism available to all Canadians, which any six citizens from anywhere in the country can use to call for a review, if necessary.

Milling IndustryOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

We certainly hope, Mr. Speaker, that our experts are experienced. Otherwise, we would be in trouble.

Does the Minister of Industry intend to sit on his hands and allow this transaction, which will effectively transfer to two American companies the power to set the price of flour in Canada?

Milling IndustryOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalSecretary of State (Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, at the risk of repeating myself, in 1986, Canada put in place a process to analyze mergers, buyouts and cases of unfair competition. This is a great and highly effective process. We have a bureau employing a number of experts called upon to analyze the market and its transactions. When they find that competition is declining, they take action; alternatively, individuals can use the mechanism provided for in the legislation.

TradeOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Liberal Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for International Trade.

A new softwood lumber agreement has gone into effect. Can the minister assure the House that this agreement with the United States will benefit Canadian producers?

TradeOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the agreement on softwood lumber was signed yesterday by our ambassador in Washington and a United States deputy trade representative. It reflects the policy I announced early in April with respect to this matter. It will go into effect on April 1.

This is an unprecedented agreement. It provides for secure access for a period of five years. It has in writing the agreement of the United States government not to pursue trade remedies in that period of time on the issue of softwood lumber. It is a position our industry strongly supports. It helps to preserve its export market into the United States. That in turn helps to preserve thousands of jobs.

In fact, if an amount of lumber which is equivalent to the average over the last three years is exported, not a nickel in fees will be paid. It will be a free flow. Last year was a record year. The industry could go to over 90 per cent of the amount and still have it as a free flow. Any fees that are paid over that will be staying in Canada. They will not be going to the United States treasury.

Pearson International AirportOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, for the last two years the Liberals' explanation for cancelling the Pearson airport development contract was that the developer's profits would have been excessive. Now the government has admitted that the potential profits were far from excessive. In fact, the Liberals in a court of law are stating that the developer would have lost money on Pearson.

Can the Minister of Transport please tell us which Liberal statement we should believe: the one which was made in the House that the developer would have made too much money, or the one which was made in a court of law that the developer would have gone broke?

Pearson International AirportOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Hamilton West Ontario

Liberal

Stan Keyes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the government is facing a lawsuit in Toronto on this issue. It would be entirely inappropriate for me to comment on the particulars of this case at this time, save to say that the plaintiffs in this case were claiming $172 million for lost profits. Then what happened? They upped their claim to over $600 million in lost profits.

The government has a responsibility to the Canadian taxpayer to test the validity of that claim. To that end, the government retained the experts who provided the government with the correct advice on the plaintiffs' case.

Pearson International AirportOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, Pearson Development Corporation was prepared to spend more than $800 million of private sector money renovating Canada's most essential airport. Instead what we got was a contract cancellation from the newly elected Liberal government. More than two years later, there is still no alternative development of those terminals under way.

Now that the Liberals have admitted in court that the developer's profits were not excessive, will they admit to the House that the real reason they cancelled the Pearson contract was to cover up more misspoken election rhetoric?

Pearson International AirportOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Hamilton West Ontario

Liberal

Stan Keyes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is a little behind the times. If he read the papers and paid attention to the news broadcasts he would understand that negotiations for the changeover from the federal government to a new local airport authority are proceeding ahead of schedule. In fact, the government expects to transfer the Pearson International Airport to a local airport authority in the very near future.

Despite the huffing and puffing of the hon. member opposite, the member who cares more about his lobbyist friends than he does about the Canadian taxpayer-

Pearson International AirportOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

French Speaking MinoritiesOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Daviault Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, we learned today that, after cutting in half its funding to francophones in Saskatchewan, the federal government wants to do the same to Franco-Ontarians. This reduction is totally unacceptable, considering that Franco-Ontarians must still fight to protect their most basic rights.

Instead of protecting the 340,000 Franco-Ontarians who still use French, why does the government choose to cut their funding?

French Speaking MinoritiesOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Restigouche—Chaleur New Brunswick

Liberal

Guy Arseneault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the House that negotiations are underway. It is not our custom to negotiate in public.

French Speaking MinoritiesOral Question Period

May 31st, 1996 / 11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Daviault Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, if it can help the federal government in its negotiations, let me remind it that the Commissioner of Official Languages and the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne have clearly indicated that this government does not fulfil its obligations under the Official Languages Act.

With these cuts, is the government actually giving up its responsibilities towards francophone minorities in Canada?

French Speaking MinoritiesOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Restigouche—Chaleur New Brunswick

Liberal

Guy Arseneault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I am very surprised because, two weeks ago, they complained when the commissioner congratulated us for improving the situation of francophones living outside Quebec. I want to make it clear that we need no lesson from this party.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a very solemn question today for the Prime Minister or whoever is speaking for him.

Integrity was the theme of the red book. Yet we have this case before us of the defence minister using split contracts to avoid tendering so that he can award his campaign workers. Senior officials at Treasury Board have said this is unacceptable, unethical and should be disciplined.

If ever the ethics counsellor was needed to clear the air on behalf of Canadian taxpayers, this is the occasion. Will the Prime Minister call on the ethics counsellor to investigate this blatant abuse of public funds?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I have explained this matter a number of times in the House.

There are budgets for full time employees. There are budgets for people who are hired on a short term project basis. The one that has been referred to in the House was a short term project which obviously was extended because of the nature of the legislative changes that were made with respect to the War Veterans Allowance Act.

The key thing here is that the arrangement followed Treasury Board guidelines. That was stated by the President of the Treasury Board. It has been stated by me in this House. It has been stated by my officials.

The hon. member is giving the false impression that what was done in the case of those people whom I retained contravened Treasury Board guidelines. I would hope that the member would stop giving out this misinformation because it is absolutely false.